Former Victoria premier urges revamp of national betting laws

    Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has called for reform of Australia’s national betting laws, calling corporate bookmakers a “cancer,” local media reported.
    Speaking at a Racing Victoria industry briefing, the politician said his decision to privatize TAB when he was premier was a mistake. He forecast a financial catastrophe for the racing industry if rules aren’t changed, as corporate bookmakers only pay a sliver of their earnings back into the industry compared with the payments made by the TAB.
    “If I had known 20 years ago that in privatising the TAB it would bring an influx of corporate bookmakers to Australia I would not have privatized the TAB,” he was cited as saying. “They are a cancer in our society . . . they’re destroying your industry and they’re going to destroy most sports.”
    He said that state and national responsibility for running racing should be handed over to independent commissions.
    In a separate move, Racing Victoria has launched a scheme to encourage bookmakers to accept more bets from high rollers, with the aim of preventing them from turning to illegal offshore operators.
    Under the scheme, bookmakers will be able to reclaim one percent of turnover from approved high-volume, low-margin punters. Turnover from these gamblers is about $500,000 (US$466,000), though bookmakers receive less than four percent. The scheme, to run for six months backdated to July 1, 2014.